Q. Can you give us an update on QB Sam Bradford and RB Ryan Mathews?**
COACH SHURMUR: Sam will be out there today. We'll have to see what Ryan is able to do. But Sam will be out there training today.
Q. How much have you missed having Mathews?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, I think anytime you lose a player, you know, Ryan is a good, physical runner. We saw what type of a crew we had when we had a good rotation between him and [RB] DeMarco [Murray] and [RB] Darren [Sproles]. So when you lose one of those guys, you've got to make up other places.
Q. Are you concerned with Mathews at this point? It's been a while.
COACH SHURMUR: No. You know, each guy comes back from concussions at a different rate. We see him every day. He seems to be getting better every day.
Q. Chip said that today is a big day for Bradford. What do you look for specifically in practice to know that the left shoulder is where it needs to be?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, he did some stuff last week, which we all discussed. He'll do more this week. It's just a matter of him going out and training, and then recovering from the training and then going out and doing it again. So we're just looking for him to go out and be able to execute and feel good doing it.
Q. What have been some of the issues with DeMarco when he's tried to run outside?
COACH SHURMUR: I think sometimes he does get outside. There have been some runs where we've tried to hit it up inside and then he's bounced it. It's specific to the play that you're asking about.
Q. Mainly the outside zones and sweep plays.
COACH SHURMUR: We probably run more sweep plays and those are the ones that showed up. It takes some coordination with the blocking as well as staying on the right path and getting to the perimeter. I think he's had some good outside runs, and I think the challenge is for all of our guys to just do what they do a little bit better and a little bit more consistently.
Q. Mathews ranks relatively high in the NFL in yards per carry before contact. What goes into being good at something like that?
COACH SHURMUR: We've seen his running style where he'll take it and he'll hit it. Because he'll do that and get up in the hole, he has more of a squared body position where he can make a break right or left or stay on course. I don't know, maybe that's something to do with it.
Q. What's going on with TE Zach Ertz? Is he going to be able to practice today? What did you see from TE Trey Burton?
COACH SHURMUR: First of all, I think Zach will be out there. I thought Trey made some plays early in the game there. He caught a line route. His run after catch is very good. You're talking about a guy, he's a converted quarterback. He was a quarterback in high school. He, in my opinion, is a very talented skill player. He does an outstanding job on special teams. I think he filled in pretty well with Zach being out.
Q. Do you see Burton as a guy that may get more playing time?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, he's up and he plays. We'll just have to see how much he'll get now with the three tight end rotation.
Q. What is the thinking of having WR Miles Austin and WR Riley Cooper sharing that common position as opposed to having WR Nelson Agholor and WR Josh Huff? Why those two at that position? Is there something they have in common?
COACH SHURMUR: No. I think we've spoken about this before. Because we play no-huddle and we like to play with pace, we just got to get a rotation. We think of those two players as one on the left side, just like Nelson and Huff share the right side. There's nothing to it other than they share.
Q. No rhyme or reason to it?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, that's where they've done most of their training, on the left together there.
Q. Couldn't you change that?
COACH SHURMUR: Sure, and there's times during the game when it does change. You know, if you look at it, there's time when our left receiver is playing the right and vice versa.
Q. What do you see from your offensive line right now? Is it holding together or improving or is it just play-to-play?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, certainly we haven't done anything in the last two weeks that we would say has been good. But I think it's improving. You know, we've had guys in and out of the lineup. The tough ones are when a guy starts the game and only goes a few snaps. Then, you've got to kind of jostle it around. But we have confidence in all the guys we put in there. The challenge is, just like every team this time of year, you got to go in and perform wherever you're placed. That's really where we're at.
Q. With T Jason Peters being injured a few times, how much does the lack of continuity play into the offensive line now?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, that's a good tag-along to your question. You'd like to see guys play the same spots and train at the same spots consistently all the time. The challenge is to play well and do it sometimes with not as many reps as you would get if you were the starter. It's just a challenge.
Q. Have there been communication issues because of that?
COACH SHURMUR: I think sometimes those pop up in situations where if you'd been playing next to somebody consistently, they don't show up as much. We had a couple the other night, for sure.
Q. How about C Jason Kelce's knee? Have you had a chance to see him?
COACH SHURMUR: I mean, it was pretty heroic, him playing. He struggled through the week. I thought he battled and did a good job of being out there. I've seen him in the last couple days and through the weekend and talked to him quite a bit. He's doing fine.
Q. What are the specific differences between Sam Bradford playing and QB Mark Sanchez playing quarterback right now in this offense? Give me some specific things that you think Bradford can do better than Sanchez since he's number one on the depth chart.
COACH SHURMUR: I think as we watch Sam's play, I think he really did improve each game that he played.
Q. Specifically what?
COACH SHURMUR: Understanding our progressions. I think as the games went along, until he was out in the Miami game, I think the receivers were becoming more comfortable with him, catching more of his passes. So there was a comfort level. I've always felt that Sam's a naturally accurate passer. It's a coordination when you throw the ball from your toes on up. I think he was getting much better at that as time went along. Mark can move around probably just a little bit better. I think that would probably be just the difference.
Q. C/G Barrett Jones, what do you know about him?
COACH SHURMUR: I know a lot about him actually. We liked him when he came out. He has familiarity with [Offensive Line Coach] Jeff Stoutland who he played for at Alabama. Just the little bit of time we spent together, you could tell Jeff will help him connect the dots on how we do things and how we communicate. He's a guy that can play right guard. He played center. Really, what he did in college, he was a good player, really good player. Hopefully we can get him in the mix and have him in here competing.
Q. Are you viewing Jones as more of a center or a guard?
COACH SHURMUR: Probably guard and center both. Anytime you're fighting your way into the lineup there, you have to be multi-positional.
Q. When you look at the Thanksgiving game, how much were you looking for individual effort and what did you find?
COACH SHURMUR: I think the guys played hard. I think there's specific reasons why some of the plays didn't work well. But in terms of effort, I thought the guys fought hard. We always look for that. Those are things that we point out on a continual basis. There will be a play or two in every game, even ones that you win by a large margin, where a guy can do something just a little bit better, whether it's execution. You're constantly pointing that out. Just like when the players go on the field and train, they're always in there constantly working on their fundamentals. I didn't see that being the issue.
Q. There have been some opposing players on defenses of late that have noted they don't think the tempo, once you catch up to it, it doesn't have much of an advantage for this offense. Have you found that defenses are catching on or catching up to the tempo?
COACH SHURMUR: I don't know if it's they're catching up. I think teams have to decide how much they're going to do on defense. So we see less defense so they can line up faster. We still feel like that's an advantage for us.
Q. Does going fast keep opposing teams in their base defenses?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, part of it, from a substitution standpoint. There have been times during the year where we were able to catch teams with 12 men on the field because they're trying to sub, so on.
Q. As a follow-up, some of the comments have been about the predictability of the offense, from the defense's perspective. As you are watching the film, are you seeing anything that would indicate that?
COACH SHURMUR: No. I think we have complementary plays. We do complementary things to everything. Everybody seems to look at and say that's something they do each week. From a game-planning standpoint, we have those things in our offense. I think sometimes, from a defensive standpoint, when it's third-and-long, everyone on defense is saying, 'Watch the screen, watch the draw.' Probably other people would say the same thing watching the game. I can't speak for what other defenses are saying. I know from an offensive standpoint, when we put a game plan together, we have the things we do and then we have the complementary things that take advantage of what the defense will do if they think we're doing something.
Q. On Sunday night, Denver's run game was more productive after Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower got hurt. How important is he to their run defense?
COACH SHURMUR: They're a very solid defense. They're very fundamental. I think their front seven is very handsy. They get their hands on you. They've always been that way. They kind of throw a net around you. Hightower is obviously an outstanding player. You're right, when he went out of the game, then Denver found a way to kind of crease them a few times running the football. Very good football player. He's obviously a key piece of their defense.
Q. When you move a guy like T Lane Johnson from right tackle to left tackle, what are some of the mental challenges that go along with that?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, everything flips for you. So if we're running to the left and you're on the left, you're going, and vice versa, if you're going right. There is some learning that takes place. That's just the challenge that Lane is faced with. Instead of making excuses for that, he's just got to go out there and train and get himself prepared to do it if we ask him to.
Q. Is Nelson Agholor getting open?
COACH SHURMUR: I thought he did a better job this past week getting open. But I think he's a little bit more healthy than he's been in the last month or so. So I think he'll continue to get more snaps where he frees himself up.
Q. What is your experience with shoulder injuries like Sam Bradford's with other players? Do you have any sense whether he's going to need more time?
COACH SHURMUR: It's hard to say. Again, shoulders are similar. It's his non-throwing shoulder. But everything, when you throw, is equal and opposite. Your whole body is involved. It's not like picking up a baseball and flipping it. Throwing is a motion that involves all parts of your body. It's just a matter of him getting back in rhythm. Sam is a tough guy. He wanted to play in this game on Thursday. We worked him out, as most of you saw, right before game time with the hopes that he could play, and he couldn't. There's a lot of things to consider with a quarterback. His ability to throw the ball, his ability to move, and then also his ability to protect himself in the pocket if something breaks down. So those are all things that we've got to kind of get sorted out as the training goes on.
Q. Applying the tempo, is it one of the tradeoffs that you're not going to have as many plays in your arsenal? If that is the case, why is it more of a benefit to run tempo as opposed to having a more voluminous playbook?
COACH SHURMUR: Our plays, when we run fast, have answers. If they do one thing, we can do another. In a former life, you would get in the huddle and it would be very wordy and you'd come to the line of scrimmage. You saw in a former life there were times when we were fighting the clock to get the play run, right? There's also issues with that. But the way we've put the offense together, it's a combination of all those things. So we feel like we have a pretty deep offense in terms of being able to play with pace. Certainly, you got to execute the plays properly. We got to get them called at the right times and all those things. That's what makes for a winning performance.
Q. Is not going with tempo strictly when you have a lead in the second half or can you throw a change-up occasionally in the first half?
COACH SHURMUR: Change-up and go slower, is that what you're saying? Yeah, we can control the pace in any way we choose to.
Q. How come you don't in the first half?
COACH SHURMUR: Why don't we? I think the problem we've had in the first half is we haven't stayed on the field. We had a solid drive the first drive of the Lions game and then didn't come up with points. We had plays. We were out there for a certain stretch of time. The challenge for us is to stay on the field and run plays and score points. I think we just got to fall back on that. It's always about scoring points. That's why it's going to be a challenge this week. I think when you look at the Patriots' defense, they give up yards, but they're one of the top teams in preventing scores. That will be the challenge this week.
Q. Was the offensive line situation a factor in not trying Bradford against Detroit? In other words, if you were more certain of your protection, might you have been less leery of putting him in?
COACH SHURMUR: No, I think Bradford being able to play was an independent decision, whether he could play or not.